HOW DO BOUNDARIES WORK?
We learn to set boundaries to protect two different parts of Self:
- Boundaries for our Outside Self, which protect our body and control distance and touch
- Boundaries for our Inside Self, which act as filters or blocks to protect our thinking, feeling and behavior
Boundaries that protect our Outside Self can be violated by such actions as:
- Touching or standing too close without permission
- Intruding on a person’s privacy; for instance, walking into the bathroom or bedroom without knocking, or getting into another’s personal possessions without permission
Boundaries that protect our Inside Self can be violated by such actions as:
- Yelling, screaming, name calling, ridiculing, lying, patronizing and sarcasm
- Negative control
- Unrealistic expectations
- Demanding one’s own way or point of view as the only choice
HOW ARE BOUNDARIES SET?
Let me say first, setting boundaries is not disrespectful, bad or wrong. In fact, personal boundaries are set by people who are emotionally healthy.
Educate people in your life about your boundaries. Calmly and respectfully inform them about how they can and cannot behave around you. Let people know what you want and don’t want, what you like and don’t like.
Let people know what your limits are. This actually gives people in your life the security of knowing your relationship guidelines and eliminates their fears about how they should behave with you.
Just a note to point out that the failure or inability to set boundaries may result in several unfortunate circumstances:
- Inability or unwillingness to set limits results in no protection for yourself
- Building walls to protect yourself actually blocks closeness and prevents loving and unloving interactions
- Confusion or ambivalence about setting boundaries results in partial protection
- Building walls or inadequate boundaries blocks all interactions and results in no protection
A boundary is not a barrier. Setting boundaries raises your sense of self-worth and self-esteem, because you are sending yourself the message that you are worthy of care.
- Be a person who knows that you have a right to control distance, touching and other physical contact with people, and they have the same right with you.
- You have a right to control your response to what others say, do, or expect of you, and they have the same right.
- You think your own thoughts and make your own choices. You must choose to do or not to do that which is in your own best interest or in response to your experiences. Others have the same right.
- If you offend or affront another person, you are responsible for the impact of your action and should make amends. If someone offends or affronts you, s/he is responsible for the impact of his or her action and should make amends.
Setting and maintaining your own boundaries and honoring the boundaries of others are skills that can be learned. It takes mindfulness, intention and practice. Be patient with yourself as you learn and practice these important and valuable skills. It is worth it; And so are you!
Remember, only YOU can make it happen!